Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Ridicules Tourtured Cheerleading History and Leaving it for Dance

In a lot of ways, I didn't want to find myself walking out of my newly joined dance classes smiling. I try to stop myself. Deep down, I wanted to hate myself for quitting cheer. I wanted to regret giving up my team and uniform as well as the only slight progress I had made in trying to fit in at my gym. I wanted to feel bad for my mother screaming at me for quitting and be upset that I'm stuck trying to come up with the money for dance myself. I wanted to miss going to practice every Monday and Wednesday for something more then my friends their but I can't. I don't.

I wanted to be wrong because I love cheerleading so much. Growing up I wanted two things in life, to be a popstar and to be a cheerleader. I don't want to think that what I wanted to get from cheer wasn't possible (because I really want to believe anything is. I need to if I want to become a freaking superstar). Yet the last few months its become really, really evident that I'm much more likely to be successful in music then ever topping in a routine or even feeling useful in one.

Should I instead think cheer just wasn't right for me, regardless of how much I love it? I'm really confused about it all. It's not like I didn't keep trying. The past five years I've been cheering on and off. I started out on a team but quit due to the most terrifying girl in the world. (I went back to that gym in grade 12 and she was on the team. She told me I wasn't going to do anything and called me fat within the first five minuets. THEN remembered I had been the victim of her torture on a team years ago). I ended up cheering at Cobras with my friend Angela. I made the most amazing friends Stepha, Dee and Julia there. I love them to death and am so greatful to have met them. I think this was the most fun I had cheering on a competitive team. I stayed for most of the year but the last two months I just got too restless with a desire to be doing more in the routine. It wasn't so clear to me then and with Angela quitting cheer and dropping out of school I needed time to think and get used to everything changing.

(My first team Cobras)

The most fun I had cheering was when I was captain of my school team. Probably due to the fact I was defying all odds by starting up, maintaing and getting us to actually compete. Everyday I had to do something to keep it going. I was determined to make it happen and I did. It felt good knowing without me their wouldn't have been a team. I was living in a severely messed up version of Bring it On. We were horrible, the school wanted us to fail and the staff were all very unsupported except for the angel mrs.Brown who by accident got dragged into being our staff sponsor.

That team was my baby, my terror of a child who refused to cooperate but mine none the less. Our members dwindled and finding coaches and completing a routine was an endless cycle. It was so hard but I knew we had to compete at least once. I may not have fit in at school during the day but at practice I had a place. I had gotten close to the girls on the team regardless of how we may have felt about one another. I even was doing some occasional topping. I really felt like I had started and was involved in something. (Canadian high schools, mainly the peel region SERIOUSLY lack extra circulars. Your drop out rate is not suprising). We finally made it to the last competition; also the biggest of the year. One of the girls I had become close with on the team (until I asked her to pay me back for lunch once, regardless of the fact I bought her it everyday and drove her home) made remarks about how other people could have done a better job as captain but It didn't matter to me. I knew if anyone else had started it, there wouldn't be a team. We competed, learning the routine with only two practices and lacking so many of our original members. I could barley walk on the second day of competition because I had mono and had been to the prom of the complicated bipolar boy known to my early blog readers as asshole. Regardless of how bad we were, how sick I was and what had happened I was so, so, proud of us. I told the team our goal was to get second last place and considering what we were working with it didn't seem likely. We did however reach our goal! I cried I was so happy that we had achieved a seemingly pathetic award. Making it to a competition felt like first place to me. It was really all that mattered. I had helped us achieve what was the imposible to my school and many of my teammates.

(My sad little team with less them half our original members at our competition)

We were excited for the next year, we knew we could successfully have a team. The disbelief it would last was exactly what hurt us so much previously. Our teacher sponsor wouldn't be returning and I had suffered from being extremely sick through the summer months and continued to be. I went to school, if only to make sure our team continued. After weeks of begging teachers to be our sponsor we found one. For some reason we had to get the worlds worst principal Mrs. Turner who thought cheerleading was only for cheering boys on and not a sport. Ironic as she had the worst butch haircut and style. She tells me this after dragging me through weeks of chasing her to even ask her a question. Then making me make up a long presentation that in the end she wouldn't even open and look at. I was sick, exhausted and had never been so angry in my life. She made the staff members cry and constantly crushed the dreams of many students. It disgusted me that people like her could be in positions of power, let alone have the power to negatively change so many futures. I hated everything. I sat in class thinking of the things I wanted to say to her. My few friends at school were kicked out for petty reasons or went through some very insecure changes and my illness took every ounce of strength away from me. I sat in class quiet, defeated and unbelievably miserable. I'd stare at the computer screen on into a hall of a school I hadn't loved but had made work. The previous year was a different life and I was now in hell and invisible to everyone around me. My teacher thought I was on the verge of suicide. I couldn't fight anymore, so I did what I never thought I would and dropped out of school. (I've been finishing through correspondence books that I can not bring myself to do)

Getting over loosing my team was unbelievably hard on me. I also had to give up on my stereotypical high school dreams of prom and graduation. It came at the worst time. The past few months I had been throwing up every time I ate, in the hospital and sleeping constantly. The stomach pain I went through daily is just indescribable. Think of having food poisoning for six months. I thought I'd be sick forever. Slowly I got better but I was still very, very depressed. I tried, finally to suck up the pain and get back into cheering because I loved it so much. I was over joyed until the actually terrifyingly insane girl from my first team was on the team I was going to join (mentioned above). I basically stopped trying to think about it too much. I figured I would deal with it another day. I went to tryouts at my old gym cobras with my former teammate and friend Stepha. My previous coach, who never liked me put me on a friggen recreational team. Stepha who is extremly talented and deserved much better had been cheering for 5 years there was once again put on level 2. It was clear that gym was not the place for cheerleaders like me and my friends to grow. I was so upset and angry I went to the park and cried when I got home. The next week right after an emotional encounter at Anime North with my former best friends I ran into a mutal friend off facebook who happens to be the perfect and extremely talented example of a male cheerleader from that gym. As I was shocked and hurt by my ex-friend encounter I boldly asked to hangout with him. He also happened to be with his best friend who was on Canada's best university team. It felt like I was in some crazy bizarre dream.I had mentioned to one of my best friends Jo months before that all Anime North needed was cheerleaders and suddenly I was surrounded by them. They started tumbling around and I felt so worthless. I got spat on, beat up and my hair torn out through highschool but they never made me feel worthless or talentless. I wasn't used to feeling threatened, especially not by boys. I had flirted with guys from my favorite bands on the radio and didn't let their massive egos make me feel like I wasn't up to their level. Countless times I had shot them down. Yet here I was in front of two successful male cheerleaders and I felt embarrassed and so unsuccessful with my life. I wanted to be them, I wanted to at least be somewhat near their level. I didn't want to be so embarrassingly bad. Something in me changed for a few months. In an instant, my fears of tumbling were blocked by the pain of wanting to prove to the world I could do it. I went home, signed up for tumbling lessons twice a week and walked into the gym and fearlessly jumped back onto my hands when it was my turn without thinking twice. I wasnt scared and all summer I was doing handsprings with a very light spot. This hunger for getting better was fueled by the fact I had started seeing one of the boys I had met. Eventually, I think the realization that even with tumbling, I still wouldn't be doing much in a routine.I still wouldn't play a prominent role in a cheer gyms established true inner family. With just a handspring I wouldn't be much use to anyone. I wouldn't be that cheerleader I dreamed about. I showed up to practice at the end of july and I was regular Keely again. The Keely who hadn't been fearlessly tumbling all summer. I was back to being scared, the guy I was seeing was leaving for university soon and my summer bubble was bursting. I'd never be on their level. I popped my arm out of the joint on my one good elbow, permanently hurting it the following week on my trampoline.

(My Open Level 6 All Girl Wolfpack Team from this year)

I tried this year to make cheer work for me still. I dealt with the failure of my summer goals and tried to focus on being good for whatever team I could be on. My outlook was different, I so badly wanted to be apart of the cheer world I was exposed to over the summer if even in a minuscule way. I joined two teams, open and senior. Open only ran until November and I was happy to be on a level 6 team regardless of how much work I was doing. I also enjoyed the maturity of an open team. I thought by being on this team I could prove I was working hard and could be a dedicated and useful member of my senior team. I ended up really loving some of the girls on my senior team but no matter how hard I worked, I found myself going to practice twice a week and being one of the two girls who did absolutely nothing for the majority of the routine including all the stunts. I wasn't so upset having two or three hours to pretty much try and do painful bridges with my wonky, popping out elbows. Drunk and alone on New Years and right after my first dance class it donned on me that I was severely holding myself back. I want to finish my album this year. I want to be the best performer I can be. I want to be a great dancer and have inspiring music videos. The way I use my time right now is extremely important. Wasting 7+ hours a week on cheer isn't benefiting me in any way. Even if I'd rather be in a cheer uniform, dance is what I really need and want.

(My senior Level 4.2 team from this year in Ohio, fun competition but the 13 year olds were talking shit about me because they are 13 and I'm on the internet meaning I clearly have no soul or feelings)

Dance isn't easy. Perhaps the only part of cheer I ever found myself enjoying was the one eight count that was known as our dance section of the routine. It took many phone calls to find a studio that was flexible in letting someone older and not very experienced join. I can't do multiple pirouettes, my jumps are terrible and as for now I'm usually the worst in the class. I can however say I will get better. It's not easy but its achievable. I don't need others to achieve my goals like I do with cheer. Going en Pointe has always been a goal of mine. My previous ballet training was quite minimal as my two years of youth dancing did not involve any bar work.

I've worked my butt off in the classes the last month and this week I got to purchase the shoes I always dreamed of buying. The gratification I find dance offers is hard to adjust to. I find myself hesitant to really throw in the effort and passion I could put into cheer leading. I don't dream like magical feeling I feel when I think of achieving my dance goals like I did with cheer. I don't consider myself a dancer yet. I hope with time I will and I hope the magic will come with it. Part of me wonders if I can ever put the failure I feel with cheer to rest. I don't know if I can ever truly give up that hope.
(At my last competition with 4.2. We wore pink spankies and makeup for breast cancer. I felt super disconnected and frustrated with my team. I put a bunch of pink streaks in my hair as my way of rebelling. I think this was my breaking point. I wouldn't put up with the way cheer made me feel useless after this)

Do you feel that a certain thing can happen for some people while for others its just impossible for some reason? Would you keep fighting for what you want or would you settle for the thing that you could do better and could better impact your life. Would you continue doing what you love if it made you sad?

(My first pair of Pointe Shoes)

I wish I could cheer like everyone. I wish I didn't feel the millions of stupid artsy feelings my tortured song writing soul feels. I'll always want to be a normal cheerleader. For everyone who is completly happy with what they love doing. Cherish it.

1 comment:

Jennine Stalder said...

You can see in the kids’ faces how happy they were with their new soccer uniform! I wish this kind of program will continue to assist the needs of the children, especially in sports and ultimately, education. It really means so much to them. All the best!

Jennine Stalder @ Uniforms Express, Intl Inc.